The Hangover was born in 2007 as a script called “What Happens in Vegas”:
It was called What Happens in Vegas. In 2007, screenwriters Jon Lucas and Scott Moore came up with a novel pitch: a bachelor party comedy that would play out as a mystery, with increasingly bizarre reveals leading to the location of the missing groom. New Line Cinema executives loved the idea but were dead set on that title and couldn’t secure rights, so they passed. Others weren’t interested. But Lucas and Moore wrote the script anyway and slipped it to fellow CAA client Todd Phillips. At the time, Phillips’ Starsky & Hutch and School for Scoundrels recently had disappointed, and he had left Borat during shooting because of creative differences. Fortunately, he still had an overall deal at Warner Bros., which in October 2007 snapped up the script — now titled The Hangover.
Bradley Cooper had no f*cking clue he'd get the part:
COOPER: I had heard that Ed Helms had one of the three roles. I auditioned for Starsky & Hutch with Vince Vaughn years earlier, and I remember thinking Todd was the coolest guy in the world. Then I sat down [for a meeting at Chateau Marmont], and he was very nice and cool as hell with the sunglasses. So I actually thought there's no way in hell I'd get this role because he's sort of the alpha, really cool guy. But we both love movies. There Will Be Blood was coming out soon, so we exchanged e-mails and went to see There Will Be Blood together at Paramount. And then that was it — I didn't hear from him. I remember checking in, and they said, “Yeah, budgetary problems; they're going to need a name.”
COOPER: I'm doing a play in Williamstown [Mass.], trying to figure out what the f– I'm going to do with my life. And I'm sitting there in the apartment in between matinees, and I get a text [from Phillips]: “Are we going to f–ing do this?” I was like: “I haven't heard from you in f–ing four months! Are you serious?” You were like, “Yeah, we're going to make The Hangover.”
Ed Helms shooting schedule around “The Office” was INSANE:
ED HELMS: Just trying to close my deal was such a nightmare because NBC was in first position with my schedule. We got a really nice verbal commitment from [showrunner] Greg Daniels to cross-board all of my scenes into two days a week. I had to agree to charter my own flights, these little tiny jets, which I paid for. I'd go from Vegas to Van Nuys Airport at 4 in the morning because we were doing shoots all night, then I'd land in Van Nuys, drive to the set and shoot all day on The Office, completely Red Bull-ed out of my brain.
Lindsay Lohan was almost in the original movie:
PHILLIPS: I did meet with Lindsay Lohan a little bit [before casting Heather Graham], and we talked. Honestly, it felt like she ended up being too young for what we were talking about. People love to attack her for everything, like: “Ha, she didn't see how great The Hangover was going to be. She turned it down.” She didn't turn it down. She loved the script, actually. It really was an age thing.
Mike Tyson was at a pretty bad spot when he agreed to do the movie:
PHILLIPS: At that time, Mike was sort of struggling. He's the first to admit he was still struggling with drugs while we were filming that movie, although I didn't know that at the time.
MIKE TYSON: Somebody had told me something about a movie, but I wasn't coherent as to what he was talking about. They made it sound like it was low-budget, not a serious movie.
TYSON: They said, “We're going to be shooting a movie with you in two weeks.” I didn't even know. I said, “Really?!,” and I started drinking with them. I was a little wasted at the time. I still didn't understand the movie until like a week and a half later, when I was on set with these guys.
The story of Stu's missing tooth involved Ed Helms' fake tooth implant:
PHILLIPS: We wrote [Stu's missing tooth] in the script, and then we were talking about how we were gonna do this. We started talking to these guys who do implanting, and then Ed comes to me and goes: “You know, this isn't real. This tooth is an implant I got when I was 15.”
HELMS: I talked to my dentist and he said, “Yeah, we can take it out.” He was a champ. He's in the credits. So he took the tooth out, and he had to make a special piece to then screw into the hole so that the gum tissue stays healthy. He made me a flipper with the fake tooth on it that I could take in and out because I was still shooting on The Office. I never told [anyone on the show] because they would lose their minds. So I would show up to work on The Office with this appliance in my mouth, and it really affected my speech. If you watch those episodes, I sound drunk.
The film almost got shut down due to Ken Jeong's naked streaking scene:
JEONG: Bradley volunteered for me to jump on him. My genitals and Bradley's neck are very good friends. Todd said midway through filming, “Bradley, if this is too uncomfortable for you, let me know.” And Bradley said something to the effect of, “Todd, until you brought it up, I really didn't realize how creepy this actually is.”
PHILLIPS: When Ken jumped out of the trunk, there was a policeman who said that people were complaining from Mandalay Bay, which was in no way true. He said, “You keep doing it, and we're going to shut you down.”
HELMS: Ken is sprinting through an empty lot naked, and the cop says something like: “This is Vegas — we don't act like that. This is not that kind of town.”
PHILLIPS: They were going to shut us down, so we built a wall of blackout cloth. It was so ridiculous. [Otherwise], they were so open to us. It was the best place to shoot. When The Hangover came out, there were literally guys who owned casinos who called me, saying, “Hey, thank you for what you did for us this summer.” But it wasn't easy for us to get a hotel that would welcome us to shoot in like Caesars did. We had approached a few hotels that were like: “No, no, no. We don't do filming.”
RE: that infamous photo of Alan in the end credits photo montage:
COOPER: The woman that you hired that blows [Galifianakis] in the elevator. She was such a character. She was an old porn star. It was unbelievable. That was just fantastic.
GALIFIANAKIS: I offered Todd's assistant $1,000 to talk Todd into taking that out of the movie.
COOPER: Meanwhile, it's the biggest laugh in the whole film.
Bill Clinton, OF COURSE, hung out with the cast and crew while shooting in Bangkok for Hangover II:
COOPER: [President Clinton] was in Thailand giving a speech, and we all went to hear him speak.
HELMS: I didn't. I was vomiting.
PHILLIPS: Ed had food poisoning the whole time we were in Bangkok. The rest of us ended up going, and we got to go to dinner with President Clinton. We were like, “Hey, why don't you come by the set?” So he came by. He loved [the first movie]. He loves comedies. At dinner, he goes to his assistant, “What's that movie we watched over and over on the plane?” And the guy goes, “The president loves [2007's Lil Wayne-Big Boi starrer] Who's Your Caddy?” (Laughter.)
THERE'S NO BLACKING OUT IN HANGOVER III
PHILLIPS: [Hangover III] is a very different story. Nobody wakes up in this movie — there's no forgotten night. But it definitely is a movie that uses what happened in the first two movies. It's very much all one big story of [how that moment when] Alan buys drugs from Black Doug in the first movie basically f–ed their lives up for six years.
Todd Phillips is also, uh, the f*cking man:
PHILLIPS: Personally, I gambled less [while shooting Hangover III]. I had a gambling problem. I remember in the first one, I was always in my pajamas downstairs gambling every night, smoking. All the pit bosses knew me. I was getting in fights.